First Pitch: Thinking Outside the Box in Right Field

Earlier today I looked at the right field position for the 2013 season, then looked at the free agent options this off-season. Right field was an issue for the Pirates this year, to the point that they had to trade for Marlon Byrd before the August trade deadline to shore up the position. In the future, right field won’t be an issue with Gregory Polanco close to the majors, and likely arriving during the 2014 season.

As I pointed out in the free agent article, there aren’t a lot of options for the Pirates. The best options would demand multiple years, a lot of money, and the loss of a first round pick in 2014. You’d be giving up a pick, spending a lot of money, and blocking your best prospect, all to fill a hole for one year, and maybe less than that. There are a few bounce back candidates, although they’re all older with questions that they’re on the downside of their career, rather than in a down year. A better alternative to a bounce back candidate would be Jose Tabata and Andrew Lambo getting a shot. Either way you’re giving a one year shot to an unknown in right field. If Tabata and/or Lambo work out, then you’ve got value beyond the 2014 season.

Tabata and Lambo might not be preferred, especially if you believe that a team has to operate in a different manner once they’re contenders, and can only go with proven players or players with previous success. I’d argue that the Pirates made the playoffs in 2013 with a big hole in right field for five months, and they lost in the playoffs with an established right fielder. So the idea that they couldn’t compete if Tabata/Lambo doesn’t work out is misguided, especially since Polanco could arrive in the second half and replace those two if they aren’t working out.

That said, having an established right fielder would make things easier for the Pirates. They just can’t block Polanco, who I believe could be better than Andrew McCutchen, and will at least be an impact player in the same manner as McCutchen. It’s not a problem if Polanco doesn’t come up in 2014, but he needs to arrive after that. So how do they upgrade right field in 2014 without blocking Polanco beyond 2014?

There are two outside the box scenarios the Pirates could try to achieve this result.

Right Field in 2014, Another Position After That

Shin-Soo Choo would be a good candidate to move to first base in the long term, if he'd go for it. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Shin-Soo Choo would be a good candidate to move to first base in the long term, if he’d go for it. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

In the comments section of the free agent article, “ginbear” suggested Jhonny Peralta to play right field in 2014, then moving to backup third base, shortstop, and right field beyond that. I’d question the defensive skills of Peralta, but it’s not a bad idea since the Pirates lack depth at both shortstop and third base.

My similar idea would be finding someone who could play right field in 2014, and move to first base in future years. Looking at the free agent list, Shin-Soo Choo might be the best option for this idea. Choo is an outfielder, but has horrible defense in the outfield. Offensively he does a lot, highlighted by great on-base skills. I personally think that the worries about Starling Marte batting leadoff are overblown, although that’s irrelevant with Choo. He was the best leadoff hitter in the game in 2013, and would be a huge boost to the top of the lineup.

Choo would cost a lot of money. He’d also cost a draft pick. But the Pirates have money to spend, and trading a draft pick for multiple years of Choo isn’t bad. The big question is whether the Pirates could sign Choo. They’re contenders now, and they’ve got money to spend, so there aren’t many free agents who should be out of reach. I don’t think they could land a massive free agent who would cost $20 M per year, but I also don’t think Choo would be that type of free agent.

The advantage with finding someone to eventually move to first base is that you’re not blocking anyone. First base is a need, and the Pirates don’t have any internal options to take over in the short-term. Alex Dickerson, Stetson Allie, Matt Curry, and Jose Osuna all show promise in the top three levels, but they all have question marks and none of them look ready to break down the doors to the majors in the next year or two. But for now, first base is more of a need than right field.

There is the chance that Choo could reject a move to first base, either when the Pirates are negotiating, or when they eventually try to move him. So while the move sounds good on paper, it might not go as easy in real life.

The Pirates could sign a guy like Carlos Beltran in 2014, then trade him before the 2015 season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

The Pirates could sign a guy like Carlos Beltran in 2014, then trade him before the 2015 season. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

A Sign and Delayed Trade

An alternative, and possibly more likely scenario, would be signing a player for the 2014 season, then trading him prior to the 2015 season. The candidates here would be guys like Carlos Beltran or Marlon Byrd, who would likely only command a two-year deal. The Pirates would have to give up a pick for Beltran, but wouldn’t give up anything for Byrd.

The downside is that if the player who is signed struggles or gets injured, you’re stuck with their contract in 2015. Both players are 37, so decline or injury is a risk. But if that doesn’t happen, the Pirates can get strong production in right field in 2014, then get a boost in prospects by dealing either Byrd or Beltran for the 2015 season.

Thinking Outside the Box

Both scenarios come with risk. The idea with Choo sounds good on paper, but everyone will be going after Choo this off-season, and most will be going after him as a full-time outfielder. It’s possible the Pirates won’t get him, and it’s possible he would never go for playing first base.

The delayed trade idea is more likely to work out as planned. As long as there’s no decline in 2014 from Beltran or Byrd, the Pirates would win all around. Of course, I can only imagine that next year I would be writing “Yes, the Pirates have to trade (Beltran/Byrd) and give Polanco the right field job”.

The downside to each plan is that you don’t give Jose Tabata or Andrew Lambo a chance. That means you don’t get to find out whether Tabata’s finish to the 2013 season was legit, and you don’t get to find out if Lambo’s 33 home runs in 2013 was for real. It’s easy to just chalk any unknown up to a guaranteed failure when the alternative of Beltran, Byrd, or Choo looks like a guaranteed success. But if Andrew Lambo was for real, and the Pirates lost out on him all to upgrade over his position for one year in 2014, then that would be worse than giving Lambo a shot and watching him fail in the majors. In short, there’s no easy decision when it comes to right field, except for the long-term starter: Gregory Polanco.

Links and Notes

**Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Season Recap: Right Field

**Does a Free Agent Make Sense For the Pirates in Right Field?

**The Posting Process For Japanese Players Could Change

**Gerrit Cole Named to Baseball America’s All Rookie Team

Winter Leagues

**Alen Hanson Named to AFL Fall Stars Game

**AFL: Benedict and Thornton Shine In Relief

**Winter Leagues: Polanco Picks Up Another Hit, Rojas Makes Debut

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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  • https://profiles.google.com/115594436428170090964 Scott Cromling

    I’d be in a favor of a one year deal for Mike Morse. It would be a low cost reclamation project. If he works out in right field, great he can be the 4th outfielder when it’s Polonco time or he can move to first base. If he doesn’t work out, no big deal, Polonco will be in pittsburgh before long.

    On that note, why not throw Polocno into the fire at the beginning of the year? maybe as the 4th outfielder to be behind Tabata for a few months? the Marlins had success with Fernandez jumping from A+, so why not?

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Two things on that:

      1. I don’t like the “some other team skipped their prospect over a few levels and it worked, so the Pirates should do it too” suggestions. For every Fernandez success story, I can give about 10 “Andy Oliver has horrible control because he was rushed to the majors” stories.

      2. I think it’s easier for pitchers to make an aggressive jump. If they have all of their pitches in A-ball, then they’re ready. A hitter has to adjust to seeing good breaking stuff, good changeups, good fastball command, and pitchers with all of that. It gets harder as you move up. It would be good for Polanco to get time against upper level pitching, so he can make an easy adjustment to the majors.

      • emjayinTN

        Tim: Not to mention that bringing him up right out of ST means we are giving away a year of control. At the end of Polanco’s contract, that last year could be worth as much as $10 mil if he continues to mature as he has the past 2 years. With hitters, if you can hit at AA you can hit in the majors, so he will start the year at AAA Indy and be up the first home stand in mid-June, and he will not get credit for a full year of MLB play. Each year is important to teams like the Pirates and we have the talent in-house right now to cover RF until Mid-June. And Jameson Taillon is coming with him and will be the starting pitcher and Gregory Polanco will be in RF.

      • buster09

        Not only that,but you are in the trap that Tim had just stated. You are gambling that ” If he works out in right field….” And if he doesn’t,you have just wasted your chances of finding out what both Lambo and Tabata,to a lesser extent,can do given the opportunity. In other words : NO !

        • NorCal Buc

          NO! I agree

  • https://profiles.google.com/107500598404660809214 Kerry Writtenhouse

    I’m all for bringing Byrd back if the 2 sides can come to an agreement. But before we start talking of bringing in reclamation projects, we have plenty of projects on the roster already. Besides, it’s not like the Pirates have a track record for fixing broken hitters. Let Tabata, Lambo, and even Snider fight it out for playing time.

    • https://www.facebook.com/doug.culbertson Doug Culbertson

      I feel that trying bringing Byrd back should be priority number one. Tabata/Lambo option two. I’d like to see Polanco start at AAA and needs to be brought up as early as possible. When Polanco arrives, trade or release the extras and cut the losses. Can anyone tell me why Lambo isn’t playing 1st base somewhere in winter ball ? He played 19 games at 1st last year.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      I agree with that. Any outside reclamation project is more of a “grass is greener” situation. They might as well go with Tabata/Lambo.

      • NorCal Buc

        I agree.

  • piraddict

    If Abreu is off the table and Byrd demands more than a one year contract then I say don’t spend any big money on anyone in 2014. When Polanco comes up in mid 2014 RF is solved. The Pirates do need to find out if Lambo’s power is legit. I’d be happy with Lambo in RF and Sanchez at 1B against LHP and Tabata in RF and Lambo at 1B for RHP to start the year. Then bring Polanco up when he is ready and platoon Lambo and Sanchez at first if Lambo has proven that he can’t hit LHP. Otherwise play Lambo fulltime at 1B if he has proven he can hit MLB pitchers with power. An additional power bat in the lineup is the Pirates biggest need. Tabata is only a 4th outfielder on the Pirates and the club would be better served by trading him at the trade deadline for the need most apparent by the middle of next Summer.

  • http://hiddenvigorish.com steelpro

    No way could they get Choo and plan to move him to first. Too expensive, Boras would laugh them off the phone. If you like that sort of plan a more realistic option would be to trade for Andre Ethier. Maybe you get the dodgers to eat some salary to make the contract palatable. And Ethier has made an appearance in the majors at 1B.

    • Kevin_Young

      This is interesting.

      • emjayinTN

        Hey guys, Andre Ethier played one inning at 1B in 2010. We complain about the defense of Garrett Jones at 1B and he played 1B his whole career – it is not an easy position to master and the first baseman has input on the defensive quality of play of the 3B, SS, 2B, P, and C, in addition to himself. Yep, that’s what we need, a part-time wannabe! If you find a player in the OF it is usually for a very good reason. That is why I favor trying to re-sign Justin Morneau to a 2 or 3 year contract. And in that time we either trade for a future 1B or draft the best 1B we can find.

        • Kevin_Young

          Well I think his idea is to get him as a RF until Polanco is ready, and then see how he feels about 1st. But he’s the RF solution first and foremost.

        • http://hiddenvigorish.com steelpro

          1B is probably the easiest position to master. There is a reason players tend to transition to first base as they age. Most fairly athletic players can do it with little difficulty. And for the record Ethier played some first base in college at Arizona State too. He isn’t a total stranger at it. I’m sure he could pick it up very quickly.

  • http://battlingbucs.wordpress.com battlingbucs

    While we are thinking outside the box how about a trade possibility. He is coming off a down year with some injuries lumped and is on a team that is still far away from competing. He is entering the final year of his contract and though he has only limited time at 1B (3 career games) is poor defense in the OF makes him a logical choice to shift there. I’m speaking of Josh Willingham from the Minnesota Twins.

    Yes he strikes out a lot, is injury prone and is a poor fielder but the man has some power and can get on base. Even last year in a down year he had a .159 ISO and a .342 OBP. He would be a great right handed bat to put in the 5 hole behind Pedro. His defense is poor and he doesn’t have much experience at 1B but I could see him moving there due to his injuries and poor defensive play. Best of all he will be entering the final year of his contract.

  • https://profiles.google.com/109244063945873319632 Matthew McCarty

    I don’t understand why Tabata is not a viable option to go with before the trade deadline for so many people. He is finally healthy for the first time in his career and was at times this year the best hitter on the team. He seems to play better when he is playing mostly everyday and he does not have a huge L/R split. The positives of not having a platoon there are pretty great considering Mr Hurdle rarely believes in L/R splits unless it is the start of the game. No more pitching around Cutch to get to (pick any number of guys on the team with a severe split) to see a LHP come out of the pen and get out of jams. Maybe Hurdle did not employ this often since 4-5 of the guys in every lineup were in this situation.

    If the plan is to give up on Snider this year, I suggest David Murphy as a candidate as a solid bench bat (assuming he is not offered arbitration). His arm is a little weak for RF, but no one mentioned outside of Beltran or Byrd is very good there. Here is to hoping Lambo figures out first in winter ball well enough to be given a shot.

    I’ll put 50 Prospect Pesos up that says if both are given at least 130 starts, Tabata outplays Byrd this year OPS-wise. I think Byrd is a poor fit in the first place since most of the lineup already strikes out too often.

    Let Tabata do his thing until he stops putting up solid major league average OF numbers (nor average RF). Save the money for the deadline so we can pay more for less give up on prospects. It is okay sometimes, but the team cannot continue to part with 3-4 above average prospects each year just yet.

    • piraddict

      The greatest thing about McCutchen, and why he should win the MVP, is not his average, or his power, or his improved defense, or his speed. It’s the way he hustles down to 1B to try to beat out a ground ball to SS, whether it is an obvious out or not. Three years of watching Tabata convinces me he is pretty much the antithesis of that. (Though I do want to give him some credit, he did better at hustling the last part of 2013 than at any time previously). Maybe injuries had an affect on his hustle. I can’t really say sitting in the stands or on my family room couch. You have to be physically really close to a player to be able to see that. But I can say that you develop a championship team by hiring the players with McCutchens attitude, and avoiding the players with Tabatas approach.

      • https://profiles.google.com/109244063945873319632 Matthew McCarty

        A hamstring injury will make you look lazy, sure. I have no idea what his work ethic is. I do know that he is the pirates best bet to get a good return on prospects if he plays every game. Think Nate McClouth before Cutch was ready. If Tabata has a breakout, and the FO doesn’t buy it, he can be shipped to fill another need (like pitching depth for beyond 2014).

        • stickyweb

          “like pitching depth for beyond 2014″?

          How about a 1B, 3B or middle infield prospect or 2? I have that higher on the wish list than pitching depth

      • MattInMD

        “The greatest thing about McCutchen, and why he should win the MVP, is not his average, or his power, or his improved defense, or his speed. It’s the way he hustles down to 1B to try to beat out a ground ball to SS, whether it is an obvious out or not.”

        If only that was true. I’m sure I’ll get raked over the coals for that comment. I admit I can’t get to a lot of games or watch on TV, but through the years since McCutchen came up when I have watched in person or on video, I’ve seen times when Cutch loafs going to first. (Perhaps you’ve forgotten that one of the big story’s in Hurdle’s first season as the Pirates’ manager was benching him for that exact thing? That turned out to be a joke, because I saw him loafing to 1B when I did get to a game later that year.) I’ve also seen times when he has stood in CF with his arms crossed while other OF’s are struggling to make a difficult catch. On at least one occasion last year (2012) this aided an inside-the-park HR when (I think it was) Marte couldn’t make a catch.

        By all accounts I’ve read and from the first hand exeperience I had this past season he was better than in past seasons. I suspect actually being in a playoff race and the potential MVP spotlight have something to do with that.

        That said, yes McCutchen has great tools and I’ve seen him make plays few others could. I’m glad he’s on the Pirates. I just don’t think he’s always been the perfect player some people make him out to be. Nor do I think Tabata is as bad as some make him out to be, although I don’t think he’s perfect either. I hope for the best from both.

      • Cato the Elder

        In that case, I nominate Brandon Inge for MVP. He hustled the Pirates $1.25 million last season.

        • piraddict

          When your only elite player hustles as Cutch does it sets the bar high for everyone. Inge’s hustle couldn’t have the same effect because his performance was abysmal.

    • stickyweb

      Matty Mc, “No more pitching around Cutch to get to (pick any number of guys on the team with a severe split) to see a LHP come out of the pen and get out of jams”

      So is Tabby going to bat clean up? I don’t think you could get even his biggest fan to think that’s a good idea.

      • https://profiles.google.com/109244063945873319632 Matthew McCarty

        Tabata had a slightly better OPS than Pedro, so he could have! Its not like a 2B isnt going to score Marte or Cutch from 1st. We know thats not happening and we know Cutch isn’t going to bat 2nd against RHP, even though I’ve yet to see a good reason why Neil Walker or Garrett Jones should have a slightly better chance at an extra PA if you are trying to win games.

        we know what Hurdle will do, so I guess I see your point

        vs RHP
        1. Marte
        2. Neil
        3. Cutch
        4. Pedro
        5. whoever at 1st
        6. Martin
        7. Tabata
        8. Mercer

        vs LHP

        1. Marte
        2. Mercer
        3. Cutch
        4. Pedro
        5. Gaby
        6. Martin
        7. Walker
        8. Tabata

        And both are horribly constructed so I guess it doesn’t really matter. I would like to hear any arguments why they should not be

        RHP

        1. Neil
        2. Cutch
        3. Tabata
        4. Pedro
        5. Marte
        6. Lefty 1B
        7. Martin
        8. Mercer

        LHP

        1. Marte
        2. Mercer
        3. Cutch
        4. Gaby
        5. Martin
        6. Harrison
        7. Tabata
        8. Walker or Pedro, depending on who manages .600+ OPS against LHP

        I know, I know, but then you’d have all your best hitters in order, instead of on the bench or buried at the bottom.

        I’m never happy

        • stickyweb

          Good point about the OPS compared to Pedro, but perception is everything.

  • https://profiles.google.com/109244063945873319632 Matthew McCarty

    avg OF OPS if each OF starter plays full season and duplicate 2013 stats

    Bucs .822 (Marte, Cutch, Tabata .784, .911, .770)
    Angels .808 (Hamilton, Trout and Bourjous/Shuck)
    Reds .803 (Choo*, Bruce, Paul/Heisy)
    Natinals .831 (Werth, Harper, Span)
    Cards .810 (Beltran*, Holliday, Jay)
    BoSox .804 (Nava/Gomez, Victorino, Ellsbury*)

    *sake of argument, assume they are with the team

    Let Lambo play first (Hurdle will actually platoon him) and the offense is at least average, with the option of a trade in the future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    I am all for the Lambo/Tabata platoon.

    IF Lambo’s power is legit, perhaps we can move him to 1b when Polanco is ready?

    Of course, who do we get for 1b until Polanco is ready?

    Whatever happened to John Bowker?….lol

    • Kevin_Young

      I asked this yesterday too, but why do we want to platoon Tabata? He doesn’t have a split to speak of. If you really think Lambo will out produce Tabata against RHP then you might as well just let him start at 1st.

      • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

        When I talk about a platoon with those two, it’s not in the traditional L/R platoon sense. It’s more of a timeshare at the position, where they each get a chance and you play the hot bat.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

    The Pirates should not consider signing Shin-soo Choo. He would cost much too much for a platoon outfielder whose defense has turned gruesome.

    Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors projects that Choo will receive a 6-year, $100 million contract.

    So, for $16.7 million per season, the Pirates would acquire an outfielder, who, in the last two years, has a batting line against left-handed pitchers of .207/.332/.276 (.608 OPS) and was 16.7 runs below average (UZR) in his last season in RF.

    And it must be noted that the Pirates would not only be paying Choo $16.7 million in 2014, but also in 2019, when he is 36.

    What would the Rays do?

    Well, last year, they signed James Loney to play 1B. And he is conveniently available as a free agent this year.

    I would be pleased to se the Pirates go with Tabata/ Lambo in RF and Sanchez/Loney at 1B; or Tabata/David Murphy in RF and Sanchez/Lambo at 1B.

    I hope Polanco will be ready to contribute in the middle of 2014, but the Pirates should not go into the season depending on it. They need to acquire a one-year option for either RF or 1B. Loney, Murphy, or Justin Morneau would make sense.

  • leadoff

    What will/are the Pirates doing?
    I will tell you the first guy contacted for the RF job is/was Marlon Byrd, without a doubt. The reason this is evident is because the top 3 brass of the Pirates said they wanted him back, that includes the owner. The upside for signing Byrd for 12-16mil for 2 years far exceeds the downside. The Pirates showed last year what they think of Tabata, during a hot streak he went to the bench when Marte came back from injury, he was a 4th outfielder when Marte, Cutch and Byrd were there, Lambo was not even put on the playoff roster against the Cards.
    If they sign Byrd, they don’t give up a draft pick. If they sign Byrd they solidify their outfield. If they sign Byrd, they do not block Polanco, when Polanco is good enough to beat Byrd or Marte out, he will play. If they sign Byrd, they are not stuck with him, he can always be traded even if he is having a down year. The Pirates can’t be constantly worried about being stuck with a contract as small in this day and age as Byrd’s will be. Lincecum (34Mil/2 years), has anyone noticed the has bins getting big money in todays baseball market! Getting Byrd for 12-16mil for 2 years would be a bargain in today’s baseball world, the way things are going, 2 years at 20mil might be a bargain for Byrd.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

      The 2013 Marlon Byrd who hit 24 HR and batted .291 with an .847 OPS would be worth a 2 year, $16 million deal. But any team who signs Byrd must remember the 2012 version who hit 1 HR in 153 plate appearances and batted .210 with a .488 OPS; and the 2011 version who hit 9 HR in 482 plate appearances with a .719 OPS.

      • leadoff

        Thanks, I realize Byrds previous years will cost Byrd a few dollars, but the Pirates have to go by what they see and apparently they saw enough that all of the brass want him back, have not heard Hurdle comment on whether he wants Byrd to come back though.

        • Cato the Elder

          Well, if Byrd has a .488 OPS, it is going to be kind of hard to trade him and his $8 million dollar a year salary when (not if) Polanco is ready. That make it kind of risky, particularly when they are already over paying Tabata for a 4th outfielder spot.

    • https://profiles.google.com/109244063945873319632 Matthew McCarty

      How exactly does Byrd solidify the outfield moreso than Tabata? Byrd has hit more than 12 HR in a season TWICE in 11 seasons (which part were spent hurt or in the minors). Who has a better chance to repeat a career year? a 36 year in his 12th season or a 24 year old entering his 5th?

      And forget about Lincecum getting that silly contract. It was panned by everyone in baseball and seemed to be simply the owners hooking Timmy up. If that is not the case, maybe the Giants just love paying too much for at least one pitcher at all times.

      A 2 yr contract for a guy already 36, who had a career year last year and has only played atleast 130 games 4 times in his career is completely irresponsible. If the Buccos do it, it should be under the assumption they are willing to eat that second year completely. This isn’t Carlos Beltran. Byrd has ZERO track record of repeating or even coming near his last year numbers. He strikes out a shitload and he is an injury away from retirement. Byrd came to play for the Bucs. We got lucky, lets not test it.

      Jeromy Burnitz, Derek Bell, never forget. Never forget the Bucs letting loose of Bay, Nady, McClouth, whom never regained form with much better reasons to think they would. I’ll take a David Murphy flyer over him any day of the week if they feel they have to make a move. Hell, offering GFJ arbitration sounds better to me. He has had good seasons 3 out of 5 seasons, while Byrd is 4 of 11.

  • leadoff

    Tim, is there anyway you can figure what Byrd’s monetary value would/should be?

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

      Free agents have been considered to be worth about $4.5 million per win above replacement level.

      Byrd’s WAR over the past three years has averaged 1.6. Based on that WAR method, Byrd’s value would be $7.2 million per season. But that is drastically skewed by the 4.1 WAR he posted in 2013. In the previous two seasons, his WAR was -1.0 and 1.8.

      • leadoff

        It is highly unlikely the Pirates will overpay for Byrd. If he is worth 15mil for 2 years that is probably what they will give him, they usually don’t stray too far from the players true value.

        • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

          It’s that second year that concerns me.

        • Andrew

          I think the skepticism over Byrd is warranted, he has average 1.7 WAR over his career and is 36 years old. His 2013 was an aberration, he chose to swing more, which led to less contact and greater power. You can construct arguments about why it is or is not sustainable. However given the uncertainty I think Richard’s valuation is correct. (I would use $5 million/WAR but if you factor in depreciation and accept it is all an exercise in approximation then between $15-18 over two years is correct.)

          The Pirates were comfortable going into 2013 with a right field of Tabata and Sinder. (And a left fielder with 182 major league PAs) Why would they not be comfortable with Lambo and Tabata in 2014? Why give a two year contract to a player you only want for 4 months, yes it will give you options but these options are not costless?

          • stickyweb

            “Why would they not be comfortable with Lambo and Tabata in 2014?”

            Haven’t you heard? They’re contenders now so they need to start doing things differently, or the fans will revolt. :-)

            Seriously, I’m fine with Lambo getting significant time at RF and 1B, Gaby playing against all LHP, and Tabby getting about as much time as Lambo. But if one of them doesn’t work out or gets hurt, you need another option. Presley isn’t there anymore as a safety net (whether you think that’s a good thing or not), and not much else at AAA looks ready to step right in and help, so I like signing a 1 year bounce back candidate, probably Morse, as an extra option for both RF and 1B and as insurance if one of the 3 gets hurt/is ineffective.

    • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

      Ryan Ludwick could be a good example. He got 2/$15 M after a breakout season with the Reds (following a few down years). The breakdown of the deal:

      Signing Bonus: $2 M
      Year 1: $1 M
      Year 2: $7.5 M
      Year 3: $9 M Mutual Option ($4.5 M buyout)

      The Pirates probably wouldn’t need to front load the deal like the Reds did.

      • stickyweb

        How is that deal front loaded, with only $3 million combined bonus and salary in the first year?

        • http://www.piratesprospects.com/author/admin Tim Williams

          Not front loaded. Backloaded. I was originally going to say the Pirates would be better off front loading the deal, unlike the Reds did.

  • leadoff

    IMO, Beltran will get a huge contract and might be one of those players that will only go where he wants to go. The Pirates might not be a destination he wants to go, might just as well stay in St. Louis, could probably get the same money or more and he likes it in St.Louis. IMO, he could easily wind up being a Yankee.

    • http://www.facebook.com/richard.yazhynka Richard Ya’Zhynka

      I think you’re right about Beltran getting a huge contract.

      I understand that a lot of people don’t value WAR as a statistic, so, I’m just putting this out as an estimate for anyone who might be interested. Beltran’s average WAR for the last 3 years is 3.2. That would put his free agent value at $14 million per season.

      Beltran will be 37 next season and I noticed something in his splits which suggests that age might be creeping up on him.

      In the last two seasons, he has fallen off significantly in the second half. In 2012, his first half OPS was .924. That dropped to .758 in the second half. This year, those numbers were .879 and .758. Of course, something about October seems to rekindle the fires of his youth.

  • leadoff

    I know this is about RF, but I noticed that Trumbo is available for Pitching. If they fix first base, does RF still have to be the priority that it is now?

  • leadoff

    Taillon for Trumbo anyone?

    • https://profiles.google.com/109244063945873319632 Matthew McCarty

      The difference betwen Trumbo playing every day for 2 years (when he becomes a FA) and platooning Gaby with anyone with at least a 730 OPS is somewhere between little difference and actually worse.

      Garrett Jones, in his worst season, had a 730 OPS against RHP in 2013.

      So, thats basically trading Taillon so you can have the same offense from last year.

      • ginbear

        Yep. Last year, Pirates 1B collectively had a .768 OPS. Trumbo’s career OPS? .768

        That being said, he does have a nice contract and years of control, but that’s not worth Taillon.

      • stickyweb

        Agreed, Trumbo’s not worth trading for. He looks like a Pedro clone. Low AVG, terrible OBP, lots of HRs and tons of Ks. As awesome as it is when Pedro gets hot, the other 50-60% of the time, he’s sooooooo frustrating. I’d rather give Lambo a shot there or go for Loney.

        • leadoff

          I will take Pedro on both sides of the diamond any day.
          Pedro is just learning to hit. You won’t see those long periods of no hits much longer, in the playoffs he and Byrd were the best all around hitters the Pirates had.

          • stickyweb

            Let’s hope you’re right leadoff. A cynic would say the playoffs were just one of Pedro’s hot streaks, but hopefully he is still improving as an all around hitter.

        • Andrew

          Spot on assessment of Trumbo.

    • buster09

      Not a deal for anyone I know that has seen Polanco play !

      • buster09

        Actually leadoff,I meant to say ” anyone who has seen Taillon pitch ” ! Sorry for that,I was trying to get it in befpoore the productivity police cam around !

        • leadoff

          As good a talent that Taillon is, I am betting the Angels would not make a trade even up Taillon for Trumbo. Power hitters are much more rare than pitchers these days.

          • stickyweb

            If the Angels wouldn’t make that trade straight up, I think it’s a 2-fer, because I don’t think the Bucs would make it either. Their rotation is a mess after Weaver and Wilson, but they have good options (at least big names with big reps) for offense. As gaping a hole as RF and/or1B is with the Bucs, pitching is for the Halos.

  • skliesen

    Isn’t playing Pirates GM for a Day fun! Cho and Beltran aren’t doing the Zoltan next year. I like the idea of Eithier in theory, probably more than reality. The best external option to me is Loney at first w Gabby and Tabata/Lambo in RF.

    I say hasta la vista Byrd and Morneau.

  • https://www.facebook.com/scott.skink Scott Skink

    I’ve mentioned Bourjos as an option before, but I’m going to guess that the Cards will trade Lynn for him straight up and the Bucs would have a hard time matching that.